How To: Install Linux on MarsBoard with Berryboot

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marsboard_a10MarsBoard is a MiniPC, just like the more famous Raspberry PI or the more classic BeagleBoard. Its intent is to provide the capability of a normal computer in a very small space. Marsboard mounts a Cortex A8 CPU operating at 1GHz, a Mali400 GPU and 1GB of RAM. All of this just in the space of a business card.

The problem with the MarsBoard is that it is a pretty young project and it lacks in documentation. I had never managed to install Linux on the external memory until I used the Berryboot launcher. From now on I will explain how to use this tool and install Linux on the MicroSD.

The only prerequisite you need to have is a working installation of Android on the NAND flash of the board. To achieve this, download this version of LiveSuit (for Windows only) and install one of the two images present on this page.

The steps for installing Linux through Berryboot are the following (remember to keep the LAN cable plugged in the board all the time):

  1. download the Berryboot application for Android from this website. You have to install it on the board. In order to accomplish this,  you can choose between downloading it directly from Android using the in-built browser or downloading it in your computer and then use an USB pendrive;
  2. once installed on the Marsboard, remove (eventually) any attached pendrive and insert the MicroSD where you want to install Linux;
  3. start the Berryboot application. You will have this screen:
    Berryboot_SD_card_writer_appPush “Write image to SD card” (see below if you have problems with this step). Do not uncheck the above entry;
  4. when the process of installation ends (it takes approx 1-2 minutes) reboot the board keeping the MicroSD in and cross your fingers! When it starts you should see this screen:
    If you can see it, sigh with relief, worst is over;
  5. now you will be asked to install the Berryboot loader on the external memory. Follow the on-screen instructions (they are very easy: next -> next -> ok -> wait a moment -> ok again -> blah blah blah :)) and choose “mmcblk0” as destination drive. Probably you will be asked to update the loader too; do it and wait for the board to reboot.

After all these steps you should see a window with an empty box. This is the place where you will find your distros after having downloaded them. To do this, enter the Berryboot menu editor (image below) and push “Add OS“.


There’s a selection of installable distros; select what you want and wait until it’ll have been downloaded. Now press “Exit“, again from the menu editor and wait for the reboot. After that you will see your distro, ready to start.


If you encounter crash of the program during point 3, try installing Linux following the guide on this page. This procedure doesn’t make my Marsboard boot up, but, at least, it allows me to successfully complete the Berryboot installation.

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